There are a few foods that come into the holy grail of the most comforting food on the planet. Macaroni and cheese is the king among that list (Although our indegenous Dal Chawal gives it competition for top spot)
Cooking is really an art, but add a touch of scientific knowledge to it and you will get some amazing results. Take a look at the factors that make for an amazing Mac n Cheese!
Now this is just a fancy word for the base of your cheese sauce. It is butter and flour, cooked over a medium flame until it thickens. Milk is then added to this and whisked fervently. The starch in the flour is the all important factor in making sure that the sauce is extra gooey. The starch molecules absorb the liquid from the milk and it expands. As this happens the starch molecules are trapping the liquid and making it more thick. The take away for you here is that, you should always add equal parts of butter and flour to the so that the thickness of your sauce is perfect.
For the best flavour and texture, it is advisable to use more than one type of Cheese.Some cheeses melt very easily, but loose flavour on doing so. Others pack in a punch with flavour, but do not turn creamy. Use a mixture of both these types to get best results. High moisture cheeses like Ricotta, Monterey Jack and Gruyere melt beautifully, while Cheddar and Emmental provide great flavour. If you are bold enough, add in a tiny bit of Blue Cheese for extra pizzazz!
Do not rush the cheese. Do not buy pre grated cheese. These usually have some added starch in them and can affect texture of the melt. Grate your own choice of cheese. Take the pan off the heat and only then add the cheese gradually. Cheese starts to split and separate into solids and oils if hit with too much heat too fast. This is why you would get a lumpy cheese sauce. You want to avoid that right?
This is the carrier of the beautiful sauce that you just made. When it comes to cooking pasta we would always recommend that you follow the instructions on the packet. The manufacturers have made it their business to know what is the best time and method for their product. Elbow macaroni is perfect because it traps the sauce within itself.
In the case of the perfect Mac and Cheese though, we suggest that you reduce the cooking time given on the packet by one minute. Avoiding this last minute makes a huge difference. This helps in making sure that the pasta can become correctly soft when you add it to your sauce. Slightly under cooked pasta, when allowed to bathe for a few minutes in the sauce will soak it all up and become perfectly soft.
The Bread crumbs
The finishing touch is getting the perfect crunch on top of the Mac n Cheese. Use bread that is a day or two old to make the bread crumbs. This bread has lost moisture and will give you the crunch you need. The trick in doing this right is to have your oven on at the highest temperature, sprinkle the seasoned breadcrumbs over the dish and quickly put it into the hot oven only for a few minutes.The intense heat crisps up the crust just enough without letting the Macaroni and Cheese underneath go dry.